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September 22, 2010   Email to Friend 

BADLWIN COUNTY TAKES AIM AT STOPPING DUI OFFENSES
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
September 22, 2010

Area Organization Director Paul Brown, left, rides with a student from Daphne High School as she tries to negotiate a driving course while wearing goggles that simulate driving under the influence of alcohol. The program was sponsored by the Baldwin County Farmers Federation.
DAPHNE, Ala., --" Students in south Alabama are getting first-hand knowledge of why drinking and driving is so dangerous thanks to members of the Baldwin County Farmers Federation.

The county Federation is sponsoring a program that, buy using specially designed goggles, gives students the feeling of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while trying to negotiate a driving course and taking a field sobriety test.

David Bitto, president of the Baldwin County Farmers Federation said the county organization spent about $7,500 to purchase the customized John Deere Gator, a trailer to transport it and the special goggles.

"If we can save one life through this program, every penny that was spent will be worth it," he said.

The reaction from the students has been entertaining but serious, said Federation Area Organization Director Paul Brown who implemented the program in the schools. Brown also takes the opportunity to tell students about slow-moving vehicle signs and to watch for tractors and other farm equipment on the road.

"Most of the students show-up laughing, and we want them to have a good time," Brown said. "But when they get in here and put their hands on the wheel, it becomes serious and they realize, "Man, this is a lot tougher than I thought it was gonna be.'"

The drivers wear goggles that simulate a .25 blood alcohol level, turning the relatively simple task of driving the utility vehicle through a path of orange safety cones into something much more difficult.

Tyler Beard of Daphne High School was among those who participated in the program.

"It was tough," he said. "I almost fell down during the field sobriety test. And driving - forget it - I couldn't hardly see the cones."

The Alabama Department of Public Safety has joined the Baldwin County Farmers Federation in the project by providing Alabama State Troopers who assist with the programs. Trooper Greg Eubanks commended the Federation for funding the program.

"This allows us to interact with students and get the point across about how serious it is and how it can take people's lives," he said. "The goal of all this is to promote traffic safety."

Monroe and Escambia County Farmers Federations are partnering with the Baldwin County Federation to bring the program to those counties, Brown said.

Click here to watch a video about the program.




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